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2018 Election

Libertarians Nominate Candidates at State Convention

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Kash Jackson (second from left) meets with attendees of the 2018 Illinois Libertarian Convention. Photo credit: Kash Jackson

Libertarians from across Illinois gathered in Bloomington on Saturday to select candidates for November’s election.

The first contest was for Governor. Three people were seeking the nomination: Grayson “Kash” Jackson, Jon Stewart, and Matthew C. Scaro. Each was given a chance to speak.

Jackson elaborated on his slogan, “Restoring Freedom to Illinois” with quotes from America’s founders, Ben Franklin and James Madison, and a message of unity. “I do not see color, I do not see race, and I do not see political affiliation. My job is to be the vanguard — to willingly step into the fray for the common American. Wherever Constitutional freedoms are ignored, maimed, and disallowed, I will be there to hold those who attempt to strangle us with the yoke of such heinous acts… I will hold them accountable for their misdeeds.”

“My goal is to restore the balance between government and the rights of every citizen.”

Next up to the podium was Jon Stewart. He emphasized his pragmatism, 25 years of political experience, and positive relationship with the media. “We need to send out not just the best Libertarian to the public of Illinois, but the best overall candidate in general who can win in November.”

Last was Matthew C. Scaro. He told the crowd that freedom is something they are born with, not granted to them by the government. “I’m running for governor of the state of Illinois, but the truth is I don’t want to govern you. You all govern yourself just fine. I am here to govern the government itself. I am here to take away that power that they wield over you, that money that they steal from you every day.”

Voting began after the speeches. Candidates were required to receive a majority in order to win. The rules stated that if nobody received a majority, the candidate with the fewest votes would be removed from the ballot and a new round of voting would commence until someone got more than 50%.

In the first round, Jackson received the most votes with 47.6%. Scaro had the fewest votes which disqualified him from the next round of voting. Before the second round began, Scaro gave a concession speech and urged his supporters to support Jon Stewart.

The second round resulted in a tie vote, something which shocked many in the audience. Both Jackson and Stewart had 49.58% of the vote. One person voted “none of the above.” At that point, State Chairman Lex Green told the audience they would continue voting until there was a winner — even if that meant going 36 rounds.

Before the third round began, candidates scrambled to get their supporters in the room. The rules required that all voting members be physically present in the room once the ballots started being distributed. 126 people voted in the third round, which was 5 more than had voted in the second round. 64 was deemed the majority.

Kash Jackson won the third round with 65 votes (51.57%). Stewart received 56 votes (44.44%). Four people voted “none of the above” and one person did not vote. Stewart gave a concession speech followed by a speech from Jackson.

“For every naysayer that tells you their vote doesn’t matter, you were here when history was made and you got to see where one vote matters. Your vote matters.” Jackson promised that the Libertarian Party would get over 5% of the vote in the general election. 5% is the threshold at which a political party becomes an established political party in Illinois. It is a goal that third-parties aim for.

After that came the Lieutenant Governor race. Sanj Mohip and David Earl Williams III faced off. Mohip easily won with 72.95%.

There were also uncontested races.

Mike Leheney was selected for Treasurer.

Claire Ball was selected for Comptroller.

Bubba Harsy was selected for Attorney General.

Steve Dutner was selected for Secretary of State.

That means the Libertarian Party could have a a full slate with a candidate in every statewide contest.

Their next hurdle will be to collect 25,000 signatures, a number 5 times higher than is required of the Democratic and Republican parties.

Petitioning starts on March 27th and lasts three months.

2018 Election

Congressional Candidate Junius Rodriguez w/ Thomas Clatterbuck

Thomas Clatterbuck

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In this episode of the Thomas Clatterbuck Show, we had congressional candidate Junius Rodriguez. Rodriguez is the Democratic challenger in the 18th Congressional District.

Rodriguez has held numerous town hall events this season. The feedback from these events drove much of our discussion. One of the major themes from these events was access to healthcare, especially in rural areas. In addition to costs, just keeping hospitals open in smaller communities is a serious concern. Rodriguez talked about how rollbacks in Medicare and Medicaid funding have restricted access to healthcare in the district.

Rodriguez is a college professor at Eureka College, and we spoke about the student loan crisis. He explained how easy access to loans from the government allowed colleges to expand “creature comforts” and other expenses. To help remedy the situation, he proposed various loan forgiveness programs based on public service.

Finally, we discussed the unpleasant issue of human trafficking. Rodriguez’s area of study is slavery, both historical and contemporary. He was able to explain the factors that drive trafficking, and some of what can be done to stop it.

We also touched on a number of other issues, including net neutrality, climate change, and tariffs. You can watch the full interview in the player.

To learn more about Junius Rodriguez, and the other candidates in the 18th, check out our Campaign Headquarters page.

You can see all the past episodes of the Thomas Clatterbuck Show on the Springfield Daily Radio page.

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2018 Election

Campaign contribution typo leads to online rumors around the 48th Senate District

Staff Contributor

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A local Republican candidate got an important reminder this week that the internet is fast, and the internet is forever. State Senate candidate Seth McMillan found this out the hard way after a typo in his A-1 campaign contribution filings. Shelly Grigoroff was reportedly paid $1,207,325 for work she had done. In reality, she was paid just $1,207.25. Once identified, this typo was quickly corrected by the McMilan team.

Not quickly, enough, however. The error was pointed out both by the Macoupin County Democrats, and by the news site Capitol Fax. Despite the fact that it was obviously a typo, commentators were able to both make an issue out of the erroneous filing. Given the comical level of pay the typo reported, it proved impossible to resist.

McMillan took the issue in stride. When asked for a statement, he said, “It’s amazing that this is all the opposition has to talk about!”

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2018 Election

Illinois Republicans voice opposition to mileage tax

Thomas Clatterbuck

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It is no secret that Illinois needs to improve its roads and bridges. Both Republicans and Democrats can agree that we need to invest in infrastructure development. But how we should pay for it is another matter. Most road projects are supported by the gas tax. While this tax worked well for many years, in recent years it has not generated sufficient revenue. Competing government objectives are partly to blame for the shortfalls. Government mandates for better fuel efficiency have reduced the amount of gas people need to buy. Now, the same amount of driving generates less gas tax revenue.

One idea to generate new revenue is a “Vehicle Miles Traveled” (VMT) tax, or just a mileage tax. Conceptually, it is very simple: drivers pay a fee based on the number of miles they travel. In practice, there are significant issues in implementing such a tax. Mileage taxes have a unique infrastructure issue in addition to all of the normal political issues regarding new taxes.

The technology problem

Mileage taxes do not enjoy the same bureaucratic infrastructure that helps with normal taxation. There is already a record of every transaction for the gas tax or other sales tax. Property taxes have the assessment system to know how much a property is worth. But even though every car has an odometer, there is no centralized tracking of how many miles any particular vehicle has traveled.

Relying on individuals to report their mileage would likely prove unreliable and inconvenient.  Without some independent reading of the odometer, people might misreport how many miles they traveled, just as online sales tax long went under-reported. It would also be a huge pain for taxpayers. Annual or quarterly reporting would stick drivers with huge bills. More frequent reporting would result in smaller bills, but higher compliance costs.

Some technical solution would thus be necessary to ensure compliance. Only tracking the change in mileage could be done in a relatively nonintrusive way. But such a simple measure would not be sufficient. It is doubtful Illinois could levy a tax on miles driven in other states, or miles driven on privately owned roads. More sophisticated tracking would thus be necessary to tell when a vehicle traveled taxable miles. GPS tracking would be highly reliable for this, but raises major privacy concerns.

The political problems

Any mileage tax system would necessarily introduce some degree of increased government surveillance. The systems that would be legal to implement require high levels of GPS tracking. That alone would make a mileage tax politically toxic.

But there are other issues that make a mileage tax unpopular. Rural areas would be hit hardest due to the longer distances residents travel. Farmers would be hit particularly hard. And of course, any new tax is a tax increase, which historically is not popular. A VMT would raise the general tax burden in the state, which is already much higher than our neighbors.

Although Republicans from other states have expressed interest in the idea of a mileage tax, Illinois Republicans have come out strongly against the idea. Governor Bruce Rauner has repeatedly spoken out against the idea. He highlighted the technical necessity of a tracking device for any such scheme to work. State Representative Avery Bourne (R-95) also noted that the privacy was “another reason” to oppose a mileage tax. Congressman Rodney Davis (R13) said that he was “not as big a proponent of the VMT” as other revenue options. Davis said that the tracking issue would “impact” the ability to pass a mileage tax at the federal level.

Rauner and other Republicans have used the mileage tax issue in their attacks on the Democrats as well. Rauner has repeatedly claimed that JB Pritzker wants to implement a mileage tax. Although Pritzker has said the idea is “worth exploring,” Pritzker has denied having a plan to implement such a tax. Democrats have pushed mileage taxes in the past, but the effort was withdrawn in the face of stiff opposition. That plan had options for both GPS tracking and flat-fee options.

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